Campbell (Nineteenth Century), Elizabeth
Sicily, 'Ear of Dionysus Syracuse - 6th May 1825'; Mr Stroud and Deaks, and either Mr Walker or Mr Moor being winched up to a small chamber in the rock-face. Watercolour. Inscribed and dated, 1825. Provenance: An album of watercolours by Elizabeth Campbell. 7.5x4.5 inches.

“The excavation, called the Ear of Dionisius, is a most perfect piece of workmanship, in the form of an s of immense height, and beautifully finished. It is peculiarly remarkable for the perfection of the Echo, and some wild notes of singing at the entrance evinced what music in this place would be. Within are the vestiges of a bath large enough to contain one person only and they show what they call the remains of an aqueduct and holes which had iron rings fastened in them, for it is vulgar prejudice that this was one of the prisons of the Tyrant, who had it thus constructed, that the most inaudible whispers of his prisoners might reach him, there being a very small chamber cut in the rock over the entrance, only large enough for one person, where it is supposed the listener stationed himself. Our gentlemen were slung up by means of cords to this chamber, which they declared was the veriest humbug possible, as they could not distinguish any sound uttered in a whisper and only others at the entrance and the greatest amusement was the absurd appearance they cut dangling in the air upon this expedition. I particularly enquired if they could discover any other entrance or communication with this chamber, than the aerial one, but they said not a vestige. Query, how did the listener arrive at his post? The stone within the Ear seemed of a much softer nature than that near the Theatre, or the quarry in which it is, the latter being grey or white limestone, the Ear a rich burnt umber colour.”

This work appears in the Group: ELIZABETH CAMPBELL - SICILY 1825

Description

“The excavation, called the Ear of Dionisius, is a most perfect piece of workmanship, in the form of an s of immense height, and beautifully finished. It is peculiarly remarkable for the perfection of the Echo, and some wild notes of singing at the entrance evinced what music in this place would be. Within are the vestiges of a bath large enough to contain one person only and they show what they call the remains of an aqueduct and holes which had iron rings fastened in them, for it is vulgar prejudice that this was one of the prisons of the Tyrant, who had it thus constructed, that the most inaudible whispers of his prisoners might reach him, there being a very small chamber cut in the rock over the entrance, only large enough for one person, where it is supposed the listener stationed himself. Our gentlemen were slung up by means of cords to this chamber, which they declared was the veriest humbug possible, as they could not distinguish any sound uttered in a whisper and only others at the entrance and the greatest amusement was the absurd appearance they cut dangling in the air upon this expedition. I particularly enquired if they could discover any other entrance or communication with this chamber, than the aerial one, but they said not a vestige. Query, how did the listener arrive at his post? The stone within the Ear seemed of a much softer nature than that near the Theatre, or the quarry in which it is, the latter being grey or white limestone, the Ear a rich burnt umber colour.”